Frankenstein Symphony

Francis Dhomont

More volts, Igor! Redefining the acousmatic corpus! Amazon, USA

I doubt if it will ever be surpassed in its excellence. Vital, Netherlands

“A hybrid thing in four movements, made of cut-up pieces, pasted, assembled, sowed parts that are alike and contrasted, and that I have named, for obvious reasons, the Frankenstein Symphony: an unusual electroacoustic adventure. Armed with a scalpel and a splicing (operational) block, I sampled several morphological organs from the the works of 22 composers and friends (many of whom were students of mine), and with their imprudent blessings (on a stormy night?), brought to life this little acoustic monster which I hold particularly close to my heart.” —FD [ii-97]

CD (ASP 0978)

Out of print

This item is not available through our website. We have catalogued it for information purposes only.

  • Label: Asphodel
  • ASP 0978
  • 1997
  • UCC 753027097828
  • Total duration: 63:49
  • 105 g

On the web


Made from…

Frankenstein Symphony is a large-scale collage by Francis Dhomont made (in complicity) from the following works:


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In the press


Steve Benner, Amazon, August 20, 2002

This hour-long, four-movement “electroacoustic symphony” constitutes a somewhat unusual tribute to some twenty-odd of Francis Dhomont’s (mainly) Montréal-based composer friends and colleagues. It consists of major ‘body parts’ sliced from various of their (and his own) compositions, which have been cunningly and expertly grafted on to one another by the master (tape) surgeon, and the whole then reanimated with a life of its own, to make a veritable “acousmatic monster” of a work.

The “morphological organs” used here are, however, anything but dead flesh, hacked from rotting musical corpses by a mad scientist for some bizarre purpose of his own. Rather, they are vibrant, sonic samples — whole passages, in fact — delicately cut from the most beautiful of living works. Carefully selected for their similarities or contrasts, these have been sewn and spliced together seamlessly, with a tender and loving care that is all too evident, each with their own essential character fully preserved and, indeed, highlighted. That Francis Dhomont has managed to construct from them a creature which is itself so powerfully beguiling, sports not a single blemish, and is imbued with an entirely new nature essentially all its own, says as much for his craftsmanship and ear for compositional possibilities as it does about the strength of the original source works.

For while this work stands up perfectly well as a valid composition in its own right, the tantalising glimpses that it gives of its donor-works are such that one feels compelled time and time again to dash off and seek copies of these original. (Fortunately, the CD insert provides a full list of all of the constituent parts — which have not been treated or processed further in any way — so that one can indeed do just this.) Here is a work which not only finds new things to say from others’ materials but which manages at the same time to shine fresh light on its sources. Here, in short, is a true work of homage to a tremendous corpus of composers (many of whom were once his students), all executed with the deepest respect by one of the greatest sonic artists of the age. [Cue distant maniacal laughter.]

So, if you are at all curious about what wonders lie within the dark and mysterious world of electroacoustic music — especially of the acousmatic variety — there is probably no better place to start than here. And even for someone who is already familiar with many, or indeed all, of the original works making up this strange new corpus — from such electroacoustic masters (and mistresses) as Robert Normandeau, Gilles Gobeil, Christian Calon, Annette Vande Gorne, Daniel Leduc, Mario Rodrigue, Roxanne Turcotte and Yves Daoust, to mention but an arbitrary handful (not forgetting Francis Dhomont himself, of course) — the fresh, new context that those works are given here makes this disc well worth a listen. Provided you keep the lights on!

All in all, then, this is definitely something that anyone wanting to flesh out a contemporary music collection should grab and quickly… now, while the storm is at its height!

More volts, Igor! Redefining the acousmatic corpus! 5/5

More volts, Igor! Redefining the acousmatic corpus!


MP, Vital, no. 106, December 4, 1997

Certified hard chill for those with big maracas, the Frankenstein Symphony was constructed in true DJ-style by Francis Dhomont, an undisputed leader in electroacoustic music and an undeniable influence on so many working within this fjord. Franky (for it is he) sourced much from some of the best contemporary electroacoustic music to create this ‘hybrid thing in four movements.’ Works by 22 composers, some of whom are or were Dhomont’s students, were put onto the chopping block, sections were selected, severed and then spliced together with all of the frightening tools that science has made available. Some layering did occur, but Franky NEVER even got close to the racks of processing gear, LEDs blinking so invitingly, which probably line his living room, so no additional filtering, transpositions or internal editing was used.

Regular scanners of this screensheet may be aware of how close electroacoustic music lies to the heart of my ear. Many of the composers whose compositions were incorporated in this sublime CD are heroes of mine; Ned Bouhalassa, Annette Vande Gorne, Claude Schryer, Roxanne Turcotte, Yves Daoust, Stéphane Roy, Robert Normandeau and Mr Dhomont himself. Most of the composers’ works have appeared at one time or another on that very definitive Canadian label empreintes DIGITALes. A short while ago Asphodel released one of the best drone compilations ever titled, A Storm of Drones, a triple set, the first of which contained excerpts from works released on empreintes DIGITALes.

The idea behind this exciting, effective and most cunning stunt, the Frankenstein Symphony will no doubt now be copied by cats trying to be cool and even spooky; I doubt if it will ever be surpassed in its excellence.

I doubt if it will ever be surpassed in its excellence.


George Zahora, Splendid E-Zine, November 17, 1997

Yes, this disc is full of music inspired by Mary Shelley’s famed novel — but not in the typical manner. Rather, the four pieces here have been assembled, à la Frankenstein’s creature, from bits and pieces of other, in this case musical, entities. To extend the metaphor somewhat, these newborn creations have a thoroughly different set of perceptions than music birthed by more conventional means. The works of 22 composers have been visited, sampled and juxtaposed here. The results are varied. Allegro the opener, is full of wet, mechanical noises interspersed with haunting, sustained harmonic tones; it later dips into a deep, dark cellar of doom, emerges into the evening air and drifts warily across the sonic landscape, interacting with the beings it finds there. Andante combines drumming, gamelan bells and other environmental sounds into a palpable island of intermittent mechanical serenity. Scherzo combines instruments, spoken words, city sounds and animal noises into a nightmare ballet of distended perceptions and misbegotten beings, dying slowly amidst birds and frogs. And the Finale is even more nerve-wracking, full of brilliant stereo imaging and sonic confrontations that defy description. I can no more do justice to these works within a few sentences than I can claim to truly appreciate the juxtaposition of artists, works and compositional statements. Longtime Splendid readers will notice some familiar names — Stéphane Roy, Robert Normandeau — among the source material, which is a nice bonus. But really, writing about this disc is like combining the pieces from a dozen jigsaw puzzles and trying to describe what you assemble. Suffice to say it’s amazing.

Suffice to say it’s amazing.